One of the worst-kept secrets in sports is that Steve Cohen, owner of the New York Mets, has serious interest in building a New York casino near Citi Field, where the Mets play. Cohen, who bought the Mets in 2021, hopes to create attractions near the stadium in Queens as a way to attract people to the area near the ballpark.
However, Cohen’s idea has been met with a lot of pushback. In March, residents of the Queens neighborhood protested the idea of building a large casino near their homes, fearing it would siphon off money from local communities. Even local lawmakers have come out in opposition to the plan.
If Cohen wants a casino built near his ballpark, he may want to look at how Ohio casinos are doing. The Buckeye State has four traditional casinos, all of them within reasonable driving distance from a sports venue. In fact, two of them are within walking distance of multiple stadiums.
Ohio casinos can provide the blueprint Cohen needs to convince his detractors that a casino near the Mets ballpark is a good idea.
There are 2 Ohio casinos literally steps away from pro stadiums
The four Ohio casinos are located in the state’s four most populated cities. Cleveland and Cincinnati are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, and both sport a high-end casino in the heart of each city’s downtown.
Jack Cleveland Casino
JACK Cleveland Casino in downtown Cleveland features over 100,000 square feet of gaming space, 1,609 slot machines, 119 table games, 28 poker tables, and 35 electronic table games. The venue officially opened its doors on May 14, 2012, as the first land-based casino to launch in the state.
The casino is located within walking distance of three pro sports stadiums: Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Guardians, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Cleveland Browns Stadium.
JACK Cleveland has a prime location, being walking distance from these venues. With an NFL, an NBA, and an MLB team, there are sports fans walking the downtown Cleveland streets year-round. So far, that has helped the casino perform well in 2023. The casino has generated $178,835,076 worth of revenue from slots and table games so far this year.
Hard Rock Cincinnati
Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati also benefits from being smack dab in the middle of Cincy’s downtown scene. Caesars opened the space as a Horseshoe location in 2013. In 2019, VICI Properties and Hard Rock International acquired the venue for $745 million before changing the name to Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati.
There is no NBA team in Cincinnati, but the casino is a quick walk away from Paycor Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals and Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds. The casino is also only about a 10-minute drive away from Nippert Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bearcats football team.
Hard Rock Cincy has generated $168,444,294 in revenue so far in 2023. Again, this proves that having a location near sports venues can be profitable.
One key difference to note about what these two casinos did and what Cohen is trying to do is that these Ohio casinos are a short walk away from sports venues. Cohen wants to open a casino practically next door to Citi Field. Even Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas isn’t that close to a casino, and that place is surrounded by them.
Ohio’s No. 1 casino in revenue is short drive away from Ohio State football stadium
Many of the arguments against a casino right next to Citi Field in Queens, New York, is that the venue will take money away from local businesses. Opponents also feel that a casino would drive up the cost of living in that area and hurt residents who may be struggling with rent.
Cohen’s plan is to build a casino and entertainment complex in the lots next to the ballpark. However, he needs a bill approved by the New York State Legislature in order to start a commercial venture in the lots around Citi Field.
While casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati have proven that a gambling destination near sports stadiums can work, it is not a necessary element for success.
Hollywood Casino Columbus, the state’s largest casino, has brought in $182,280,585 in revenue, more than any other Ohio casino or racino. The venue is also a 10 to 15-minute drive away from Ohio Stadium, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. The casino is also a short drive away from Nationwide Arena, home to the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.
It may not be what Cohen wants right now, but if he continues to run into roadblocks building a casino next to his ballpark, he may want to consider something a bit further away if the goal is to get a casino built. New York has authorized three casino licenses this year for New York City, Long Island, and Westchester.